RI and Connecticut weren’t part of our itinerary. We were at Boston and on the way back to New Jersey my uncle decided to take a detour. It’s roughly an hour or two away and it would be a waste to pass the opportunity to see these places. So far I’ve been to DC, Chicago and my home bases, NY and NJ. It would be nice to expand my state vocabulary.
If you’re wondering, these photos don’t necessarily describe Rhode Island. The houses and everyday living look absolutely different. Rhode Island is actually very nautical and colorful! Sadly I wasn’t able to take photos in the car. I was somehow exhausted from Boston. I felt pretty shameless for sleeping along the way to RI. If you have seen Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, it briefly sums up the aesthetic of Rhode Island and Connecticut. If I were to go back to the US, I’d definitely go back and explore more.
The Breakers was the first thing that came across my aunt and uncle’s minds when we decided to pass by Rhode Island. Most of the images below are from the mansion.
I think these houses are from Boston. Just passed by it on the way to the next state.
At the Vanderbilt Mansion. We only had 3 hours to spare and they felt this was an essential site to go through.
Normally you’re not allowed to take photos inside but it’s the Christmas season so the staff allowed visitors to take photos of the trees—just the trees! If you’re caught taking photos of anything else, you’ll be reprimanded. I swear, those guys, they breathe down your necks!
This is just the backyard. Even the sea is part of the backyard! The mansion is insane. I’ve never seen anything like it in real life. You can check the website to see what I’m talking about.
Me + wind. It was really chilly that day and you pretty much don’t have a choice, just brave it up. Even if you wear something thick, your head and hands get all the beating.
At Mystic Seaport Connecticut. At sunset.
Afterwards we ate good food from a nearby fancy restaurant. Connecticut is lovely (at least on the coastal side, since this is the only part I’ve seen). There’s something really nostalgic about it. Or maybe this is what I’m feeling because I only see this in the movies.
When I was in NY last December my aunt and uncle invited me to go on a road trip to Boston so at least I could see it before I leave. My aunt and uncle spoil me too much. They take me almost everywhere!! I think some of my fondest memories in the US are brought about by my stay with them. The ride from Northern NJ to Boston took about 4 hours. Just as they say, the East Coast is rich in history. Old architecture is always a feast for the eyes. Tons of photos under the cut, mostly reddish. Boston is very red!
Hi everyone! Here’s an updated Watercolor Materials List and beginners advice for your reference. I get questions about materials almost all the time so I hope this finally answers your questions! I believe in sharing knowledge and helping others get a good start in painting so I’ll do what I can to help.
KINDS: Watercolor paper comes in 3 different kinds, Cold Press (or “NOT”), Hot Press and Rough. These paper types vary in teeth or grain. Cold Press (or NOT) is the most common variety found in art supply stores. It has enough grain to give a light textured look. I also think this is the easiest to use for beginners. Hot Press (HP) is smoother than Cold Press. Rough, as the name suggests, is rougher than Cold Press, ideal for sketchier and dry strokes. What’s the best kind? All of them are great. The best kind of paper for you will have to depend on your personal preference or what goes with your style.
FORMS: Paper comes in different forms. They come in Block, Pad or Individual Sheets. Since paper buckles when wet, some artists use Blocks in order to hold paper from buckling. But if your sheets are thick enough, you seldom have to worry about buckling. There are also watercolor sketchbooks like Moleskine.
Blocks have glue blind on all sides. This holds the paper from shrinking or buckling (but not 100% of the time). This is Arches.
LEVELS: Something that you might find useful when buying — Each material, paper, brush or paint, has a “level”. They’re the following: a) Academic or Scholastic, b) Studio and c) Artist level.
Academic/Scholastic is meant for beginners or student work. Since it’s not for very serious use, the quality is just good enough to create a decent picture but not ideal for archival use. Studio level is a little higher, quality is mid-range. Some brands don’t have Academic/Scholastic level ones and their lowest is Studio. Some Studio level materials are acid-free, archival or can last for long periods but in terms of craftsmanship, Artist level is still the highest. For Artist level ones, you’re sure that pigments are concentrated, paper is acid free and buffered, etc. and it is more immune to abuse (scratching, rubbing, etc.) As a result, Artist level materials can be very expensive (ex. a $100 brush — yes it exists!). What level should I buy? If you’re starting out, try Academic/Scholastic or Studio first. You’ll make a lot of mess and waste at the start, trust me on this! So I don’t recommend buying Artist level yet. If you want to produce paintings to sell, present or to keep forever, definitely buy Artist level.
KINDS: The most essential paintbrush for watercoloring is the Round Brush. The nice thing about the round brush is that it has a sharp tip for details and if you add pressure to the brush, you can create wide strokes. There’s also the Flat/Wash Brush which holds a lot of water and as its name suggests, it’s ideal for creating washes or filling large areas. There are a lot more brushes you can use, these are just the basic. They come in different sizes as well. In the photo above, the rightmost brush’s tip is not sharp anymore. If it comes to this, time to replace it with a newer one.
BRISTLES: If you’re starting out, try synthetic bristles. Watercolor brushes usually come in brown, orange or white-nylon bristles. Nylon is firmer compared to the brown ones and 100% synthetic. The “browner” or softer bristles are sometimes called synthetic sables. They work just like sable brushes but of course, since its composition is part synthetic, it’s not as expensive and the quality isn’t at par. If you’re ready to splurge, you can try animal hairs like 100% sable, kolinsky, sheep, dog, racoon, horse, etc. Make sure your brushes spring back up after you wet them. The bristle type is often written on the label.
3) WATERCOLOR PAINT
Watercolor paint comes in 2 forms, Pan Sets or Tubes. Which is better? Neither. Both are great! The difference is in usage. Pan Sets are more portable, whereas Tubes might be a hassle to carry but it’s easier to mix colors in volume. What people suggest is squeezing out Tube paints to the wells of your palette, mixing the colors you’d like to use (if applicable) and leaving them there to dry (but not crackling dry) before using.
If you’re a beginner, I always suggest Prang. It’s available in 8 colors or 16 colors in Pan Set form. Prang’s colors are vibrant and they feel like high quality paints even if they’re just scholastic/academic paints. If you’re ready to move up to an Artist-level set, I usually suggest Windsor and Newton. It’s affordable for the quality it offers and available almost everywhere. The main difference between Academic-level vs. Artist-level paint is the pigment content. You’d notice that more expensive brands take longer to consume and you tend to use less paint because the pigment is more concentrated. There are other great brands out there so don’t limit yourself. Please note that there is no universal “perfect” brand. The perfect material for you is like searching for your soul mate. What works perfectly for others might not work for you and vice versa. Keep searching and researching!
This is a Prang set.
4) OTHER STUFF
Palette - If you are using tubes, you will have to use a palette for mixing and storing your squeezed paint. There are portable ones like this one, which I use. You can fold it and carry it with you. And there are ones that are available in round or rectangle shapes with larger wells, more ideal for studio use.
Masking Fluid / Frisket - Masking fluid (or frisket) is a liquid used to block out areas of a watercolor while you paint, thereby retaining the white of the paper or the previous color that was painted. It’s a solution of latex in ammonia and is removed by gently rubbing it off either with your fingers or an eraser, once the painting is dry. (source)
Mediums - I’ve actually never tried using them before but I’ve been reading up and other artists use the following: Gum arabic, iridescent medium, granulation, aquapasto. If you want to know more about them, you can Google them up. :)
Water and Paper Towels or Tissue - Clean faucet or tap water is fine! No need to use mineral or distilled water. If you’re the adventurous type, you can get water from the sea, brooks or streams. Just be prepared for surprises.
5) A FEW TIPS
(1) Be adventurous. Just because an apple looks red doesn’t mean that you have to paint the apple with just red paint. It’s not bad to mix all sorts of colors to create an image. It’s great to try out different painting styles. You can study past/master work, contemporary work, you can mix all sorts of mediums or with watercolor until you come up with something interesting for you. Great things come when you experiment.
(2) Start cheap and work your way up. It’s a great feeling to transition from low grade materials for a few months to higher grade materials. You’ll be able to see the difference and it makes you more keen and discerning. It drives you to research and find out what you’re doing right or wrong, it helps you become adaptable to different surfaces and materials, and it adds a sense of tension and difficulty to your work… All of this contributes to the expansion of your skill set.
To be honest, I learned a lot about painting just by looking for materials for and by myself. It’s occasionally disastrous but I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. So stop asking the next artist “what brand are you using?” and start creating and start discovering things for yourself.
(3) Don’t be in a hurry. Excellent results don’t come out immediately. There will be bad days no matter how long you’ve been with the craft, so always make sure that you are enjoying every minute of it. If it’s giving you a bad time, relax and take a breather until you’re ready to get back to it. Whether or not you have the talent for it, you won’t get anywhere if you stop doing it. Also, research and thinking is important. Almost everything can be found online. I never went to art school or had any formal training in painting. Much of what I know is from my own experience and advice from others and the internet.
I think that’s about it for the basics! Watercolor is one of the more economical mediums. You don’t need to buy so much stuff and you can paint anywhere and not make a mess. Materials are generally cheaper than oil or acrylic as well.
WORKSHOPS / PAINTING LESSONS
I hold watercolor workshops a few times a year (usually from March-June in Ortigas). If you’d like to learn how to do watercolor first hand, how to use these materials or get help in finding which material is best for you, etc., just email me email@example.com to apply and I will notify you whenever I’m opening group/private lessons in the future.
Hello! I know that I never post anymore about anything besides wip and personal art. There were people looking for travel photos… so yes why not! 2013 has been nice so far in terms of personal experience. I’ve been to so many places outside of home. I went to Baguio for the 1st time, climbed a mountain for the 1st time (Mount Pulag up north, beautiful place), went to the beach the following week, then to Hong Kong last May, and then Taipei just this June. I’m thinking of one last destination before the year ends. We’ll see, we’ll see!
This is a long post with around 70+ photos (mostly of the location where Spirited Away's environment was based on). Just click read more to view the rest of the entry.
My family rarely traveled growing up. So far I’ve been to countries within Asia and to a few of them without my family. My parents are obsessively busy with the shop that they can only spare roughly a week for travel after every few years. Most of my friends travel with their family at least once a year, be it for shopping or sightseeing. I think traveling is an incredible privilege. You get to see the world in a different way (very different from TV at least) and experience people’s goodness and culture up close. My favorite things to look at are patterns, architecture and living spaces. These things fuel a lot of my work and it gets me motivated whenever I’m in a rut. After after staying in Fukuoka for a month with Irene in 2010, I resolved to vigorously save up for traveling. Traveling is invigorating.
We stayed at a nice and affordable hostel in Zhongzheng District. It’s a 5 minute walk near the main station and conveniently right in front of Family Mart. One thing I love about hostels is that you get to interchange stories with people. Listening is one of the things I tirelessly indulge in. People can’t seem to understand why I’m quiet. And sometimes louder people laugh and remark, don’t you speak? Or the casual and mildly insulting Bakit and tahimik mo? (Why are you so quiet?) Can I say that I’m genuinely more interested in what you have to say? That’s how much I love people.
We left the itinerary to Aleyn, a more avid traveller than the rest of us. Most of the places we visited were cafes and hole-in-the-wall places. We also did a little shopping.
The hostel was near a hospital, a beautiful park and a museum. Sadly we weren’t able to visit the museum. The park was filled with small pagodas. They have a pond with dozens of turtles. The elderly exercise there in the morning. It’s like Greenhills, San Juan, with all the Chinese aunties doing their routines in the morning (my auntie being one of them haha…).
There’s a boutique or food stall at almost every corner in Taipei and most of their goods are very affordable. This is along Wuchang Street at Wanhua District. There’s a small boutique at the end of this street with lots of oshare (おしゃれ系) items. I forgot the name of the shop but I was able to buy a nice pair of platform boots there.
We stayed in a cafe called Somebody Cafe. It’s a cute 2-storey place where most of the items and furniture were designed by an artist (all the black and white pen work you can see in the photos below are his). They also hold exhibits there.
Genevieve and Irene. Genevieve (we call her Chu Chu) is our high school classmate. I met her when I was 5 years old. We’re very old friends. ;^;
Irene’s been studying Mandarin in Taipei for a few months already when we arrived. Apart from traveling, we really went there for Irene (ayii!). Her Mandarin has gotten really good already ever since she left. Believe it or not, we studied Mandarin for 13 years in a Chinese school and we don’t know squat. Haha! Our high school’s language system doesn’t work like how they do it in language schools. We memorize words without applying them or learning how to put them together.
The ground floor is filled with merchandise, records, stationery, magazines and even laser-cut mirrors and clocks. Really pretty!
Here’s our food. It’s a little pricey but some of their cakes are delicious and delicately presented. Several food establishments in Taiwan have a minimum order, some restaurants require you to order a drink, or some have a minimum price per head. Like Korea, Taiwan is also known for cafes. They probably have hundreds of different brands across the country.
After a little shopping, we headed to Irene’s place in Wenshan District to get her things. The ride is around 45 minutes from our place. It’s almost at the edge of the main city. Her school is here. There are also some mountains and a zoo nearby but we weren’t able to go there. This was past 5pm already.
The apartments here are lovely. Each floor has a balcony with plants. You rarely get to see that in Manila. One good thing about Taipei is their concern for nature. Even in denser areas, there’s always a large park nearby or houses have a small garden be it on the ground or atop a balcony. Roads surrounding relevant buildings and structures are very spacious as well.
This is near Raohe Night Market. It’s a huuuuge shopping area. Boutiques right next to the other that stretches for maybe half a kilometer… I don’t really know how big it is… We actually got lost inside. We wanted to get to the food area (Raohe) so badly but we were in circles here for an hour. Ironically, I was only able to buy 1 item here. It felt like the entire clothing district punched me unconscious that I wasn’t able to shop at all. I guess for some women this would be shopping heaven. For me, I’m not so sure.
Beef noodles and Xiao Long Bao. We were able to go to a popular Niu Rou Mian joint on our last day at Yong Kang (it’s not the one on this photo) but it was really, really good. We ate Xiao Long Bao to let Aleyn taste it.
Now my favorite place! Jiufen!
Jiufen 九份 is a mountain town. Most of Spirited Away's setting and environment is based on the commercial area of Jiufen. At night, the entire town is lit with red lanterns. It used to be a gold mining town before and during the 2nd World War, hence it's filled with long winding streets and tunnels. A number of shops and structures built by the Japanese during the occupation still remain. At present, it's a popular tourist destination in Taipei.
I 1st saw this shop in Irene’s photos. I planned to buy maobi but they are very expensive and I don’t know which ones are good for painting. I’ve only used them for Chinese calligraphy before. These brushes are the type that absorb a lot of water so they’re great for inks.
The first thing you’ll pass through is a narrow market place. You can buy delicacies and souvenirs here. Here’s everyone with Fabien (guy on the right), who’s a French commercial photographer based in Asia. He’s our hostel-friend who is very fond of Ghibli films as well. He speaks really good Mandarin.
This was our lunch. It’s sooo yummy! I imagine this would be so much better if the weather is a little cooler. I think Jiufen is best experienced during spring or towards fall. It was hot and sunny during our trip, around 27c.
This place is called Don’t want to work studio. It’s like a mini-cafe and get-together place. They have vinyl records and typewriters inside (which would probably remind you of Heima if you’re from Manila.)
All 4 of us! I think this is the only photo I have of all of us together, apart from our iPhone mirror shots Haha…
This is a little cafe in the middle of the road. There’s a spacious landing at the back where you can get to see a majestic view of the mountains.
We stopped by Sidcha to rest. It’s a quaint tea house with a 2nd floor. You can get a good view of Jiufen from here.
That mountain is the highest peak in Jiufen. You can trek it and wait until nightfall to see all the lights down below. That’s from where you’ll see the Spirited Away-esque scenery.
Then of course there are temples near the entrance of Jiufen.
That’s about it! I’d love to go back to Taipei for Jiufen again. I want to climb the peak and stay over to see the lights. At first glance, it doesn’t seem to be a spectacular place, but the charm lies in the little details and in how structures are positioned alongside each other. When you get past the market, it’s a quiet town with long winding roads. Each structure is quaint and reminiscent of Japanese-style houses (based on my trips to quieter towns like Yanagawa). Some shops carry carefully crafted items like pottery, ceramics, tea and even stationery. It’s a great place to get away from the city and unwind without feeling isolated.
Taipei is a beautiful place. I love how convenient their public transportation is. It’s similar to Hong Kong but less dense. I did notice that Taipei people are more silent, even in the subway, which I noticed is quieter than most of the MTRs I’ve been to. Taipei people are also very friendly and helpful and they make sure that you know where you’re going whenever you ask for directions.
I enjoyed my stay in the hostel. It’s my 1st time to stay in one and I’d definitely do it again. It’s nice to compare notes on which fukien/hokkien words we speak are similar to theirs. It made me appreciate my heritage more. I also like how the Taiwanese are very careful and particular with their design and aesthetic.
We’ve been to other places in Taipei like the cat cafe, Eslite, 101, and VVG, but I didn’t bring my camera, just my phone. You can see a few more Taipei photos in my Instagram. ‘Til my next travel entry! I hope you enjoyed this one. :)
Here are progress shots of an illustration I worked on in the past month. From something soft… then all of a sudden ridden with paint. Sometimes I don’t know when to stop!
I started this on the 2nd week of June although I never had the exclusive time to work on it. I travelled to Taiwan and then just last week I was swamped with paper and document work. For the duration of 1 month I was only able to produce 1 work. There are just days when I just don’t want to touch a brush anymore. Hopefully whatever I’m in right now would ease out and I can get back to painting like a regular person again. ;_;
There is a really problematic culture of artists underpricing their commissions online - though I’m sure this practice extends towards the ‘real world’. A fun fact before we start: the internet is actually part of the ‘real world’. If you don’t think that industry artists are…
Reposting this on Tumblr from my defunct blog because people have been looking for it! :)
Sometime last year, Times Trading gave me a set of Derwent Inktense Ink Blocks for review and for my workshop sampling. Inktense blocks are made of solidified ink, not watercolor, which means it’s permanent and rich in pigment, great for multiple applications and wet-on-wet. It’s a very versatile medium which you can use on paper and cloth surfaces.
This is what it looks like inside the tin box. 12 heavily pigmented blocks ready for your consumption.
Here’s my work area. No need for so additional stuff. All you need are brushes (I’m using Pebeo here), a palette, your paper to draw on, a cup of water, tissue, and your Inktense Blocks set. Let’s go under the cut to read my comments about this wonderful art medium.
Derwent Inktense can be used in 3 different ways:
1) Like a crayon
This is the most common way to use water-soluble blocks. You can see that unlike watercolor pencils, Inktense blocks fully dilute with water, it doesn’t leave any scratch or crayon marks unless you intend them to.
2) Chinese painting style
Second is the Chinese painting style: using the blocks like ink blocks and stroking it on your palette with water. Inktense blocks dilute to an almost same consistency as watercolor.
3) Like a pan set
Third is by using the blocks as your actual paint pan set like what I’m doing above. Some people will say, “that’s wrong!” I say, do whatever method you can to produce good work. The nice thing about this method is that your brush holds less water so the pigments transferred to the brush are more intense.
One of the things that I first noticed is that the bleeding is very good. You can see that it doesn’t crackle. It flawlessly merges with other wet areas. One of the main difference between ink and watercolor is that ink is heavily pigmented so you don’t need to use to a lot to get an intense color. One of my students previously bought a Derwent Inktense set before and she used the sticks as hair dye and the colors really show up even on almost-black hair. That’s how heavily pigmented it is!
Inktense pigments are rich. Most of the sticks in the set dilute easily, although I noticed that Yellow Ochre is a chore to melt. Perhaps the granules are more dense. If you notice from the photo below, there are blotches on the hair and they’re quite difficult to even out compared to other colors. But other than that, I have no qualms about this set. I love using it!
Another difference from watercolor is that inks are permanent. You can lift colors from a wet layer without lifting paint from the dry layer. For watercolor, lifting wet paint on a previously painted surface can also lift the lower layer. This is one of the reasons why ink is popular in illustration and comic book coloring. It’s easier to create solid colors; the opacity is thinner, making it is easier to approximate or control.
In a nutshell, inks are very fluid and they’re ideal for Chinese style painting and general illustration work. If you have rice paper you can use Derwent Inktense to mimic Chinese style paintings. You can create fine dry brush strokes as well as wonderful bleeds. Here’s a page from Chao Shao-An’s postcard book given to me by Irene.
Derwent Inktense Blocks can be bought in National Bookstore or the Times Trading shop in Binondo, Manila.